News / Science & Technology

Juno Spacecraft Launches Toward Jupiter

The Juno spacecraft launched aboard an Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on Friday, Aug. 5, 2011
The Juno spacecraft launched aboard an Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on Friday, Aug. 5, 2011

The U.S. space agency launched the Juno spacecraft from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida Friday, beginning a five-year journey to Jupiter.  

"3,2,1. Ignition and liftoff of the Atlas 5 [rocket] with Juno on a trek to Jupiter, a planetary piece of the puzzle on the beginning of our solar system," said a NASA commentator.

Juno is now on its way toward Jupiter, the largest planet in our solar system.  NASA scientists hope this $1.1 billion mission will help them answer some key questions about the way Jupiter - and the solar system - evolved.  

Jupiter is believed to have been the first planet to form in our solar system.  Juno's eight instruments will study Jupiter's magnetic and gravity fields, as well as the composition of the planet's atmosphere and its core.  

Water is a varying factor in many theories about the way planets formed, and, by knowing the amount of water in Jupiter's planetary makeup, scientists can rule out some existing theories of planetary evolution.

During the next five years, the solar-powered Juno will spin through space, beyond Mars and the asteroid belt.  

Scott Bolton is the principal investigator in the Juno mission.  He told reporters at a pre-launch briefing that Juno will spend one year in polar orbit around Jupiter, beginning in 2016.  Juno will get closer to Jupiter than any spacecraft before it.  

"We're only 5,000 kilometers above the cloud tops, and so we're skimming right over those cloud tops, and we're actually dipping down beneath the radiation belts, which is a very important thing for us because those radiation belts at Jupiter are the most hazardous region in the entire solar system, other than going right to the Sun itself," said Bolton.

The Juno spacecraft has three solar arrays loaded with solar cells.  It is the first spacecraft to travel that far on solar, not nuclear, energy.

The Italian Space Agency, as well as partners in Belgium, France and Denmark, contributed components to the Juno craft and instruments.

Juno is also carrying a plaque that pays tribute to the famous Italian astronomer, Galileo Galilei, who made important discoveries about Jupiter and its moons in the 17th Century.

Lest you think scientists who study Jupiter are all work and no play, they have placed three pocket-sized Lego figurines on Juno.  One represents Galileo, and the figurine even carries a miniature telescope.  The other two Lego figurines represent the Roman god Jupiter and goddess Juno.  According to mythology, Jupiter cloaked himself in clouds to hide his high jinks from Juno, but she was able to clear away the cloud cover to see just what Jupiter was up to - much like the Juno craft is expected to do.  

You May Like

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Battle With Islamic State Militants Carries Domestic Risks

Despite Western concerns that IS militants are preparing a Jordanian offensive, analysts call the kingdom's solid intel a strong deterrent More

Asian-Americans Assume Office in Record Numbers

Steadily deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Comanche Chief Quanah Parker’s Century-Old House Falling Apart

One of the most fascinating people in U.S. history was Quanah Parker, the last chief of the American Indian tribe, the Comanche. He was the son of a Comanche warrior and a white woman who had been captured by the Indians. Parker was a fierce warrior until 1875 when he led his people to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and took on a new, peaceful life. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Cache, Oklahoma, Quanah’s image remains strong among his people, but part of his heritage is in danger of disappearing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid